Favorite Picks: Christie's: Important 20th Century Decorative Art and Design

. Sunday, May 27, 2012

After reviewing the offerings of Phillips de Pury, Wright, Sotheby's NY and Sotheby's France, we'll now take a look at Christie's Important 20th Century Decorative Art and Design auction, including 2 blockbuster works from the American Modern Movement:

A highly important and unique plywood sculpture by Charles and Ray Eames from 1943. Through this experimental sculpture, the Eames' were able to develop the technology to create 3-dimensional shapes in molded plywood, technology which they utilized for their first major commission: the leg splint for the US Navy. The rest is history.

I am actually quite surprised to see this work come to market.  Ten years ago I began my career as a dealer by specializing in vintage Eames design, and while researching I must have come across photos of this sculpture countless of times. I assumed it was still in either MoMA's or Eames Office's permanent collection, but now someone has the opportunity to own a piece that helped set the Eames' legacy in motion.

An excerpt from the lot notes:

The present sculpture, whilst superficially appearing to have been constructed from a single sheet of plywood that simply was cut and molded, was in fact the consequence of an extensively laborious hand-crafted process. This commenced with the cross-layering of extremely thin plies of wood, glued and heat-sealed utilising the Eames' self-built molds to ensure that sufficient and even pressure was maintained throughout the four-to-six hour molding process. Careful examination of the edges of this sculpture reveal that the laminate thickness varies from twelve to eight laminations, corresponding with the regions of the sculpture that were to either remain rigid and robust, such as the legs, or were to be subject to more complex curvature. The careful and specific layering of these laminates would have to have been identified at the start of the design process, confirming that the undulations, curves and planes of the sculpture were predicted and mathematically calculated in advance of construction. Once formed and sealed, the sculpture was delivered from the mold, the edges trimmed with a hand-saw to the desired finished shape, and the surfaces sanded by hand. Included in the seminal exhibition 'Design for Use', Museum of Modern Art, 1944, this wholly hand-crafted work endures as the perfected synthesis of aesthetic intuition allied to experimental yet rigorous technical expertese.

A unique privately-commissioned coffee table by Isamu Noguchi.

An excerpt from the lot notes:

Commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel C. Dretzin in 1948, and remaining within the family ever since, this sublime table is one of Isamu Noguchi's rare private design commissions. It is unquestionably the most important piece of Noguchi furniture ever to come to public sale. Defying the pragmatic constraints of mere furniture, the softly carved and polished structure offers a composition of poetic subtlety, prescient with evocation and delivered with sculptural mastery.

Some of my other favorite picks:

A rare sculptural chess table by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller.

A black glass table lamp attributed to Jacques Adnet.

An Antony bookcase by Charlotte Perriand.

A plywood Shell settee and a leather Ox lounge chair and ottoman, both by Hans Wegner.

Leather PK33 stools by Poul Kjaerholm.

An Art Deco nickel-plated center table by Donald Deskey.

An articulated silver-plated lamp by La Maison Desny.

A sleek pair of chrome floor lamps by Curtis Jeré.

A Palmes table by Armand Albert Rateau.

A set of sconces by Maxime Old.

A Modernette cuff by Art Smith.

A luxurious Boule sofa by Jean Royere.

A glamorous sideboard by Tommy Parzinger.

A pair of important Long chairs by George Nakashima for the Japanese House of Governor and Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller.

A music stand sculpted from solid walnut by Wharton Esherick.

The auction is slated for June 14th.  See the full auction preview here.


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